Why are these parked asymmetrically? And how can a plane owner get to their plane if it's on the farthest end?

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

enter image description here

  • 22
    $\begingroup$ I'm assuming someone cut out a load of plane models and spent an hour or two putting them onto a wee little runway model trying to work out how to fit them all on. $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 17:33
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ None of the answers seems to address the fact that they are parked asymmetrically because there are many different types and sizes of aircraft. If you're parking all the same kind of pane they fit better in a symmetrical pattern like this $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 20:30
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW Almost everything, including airplanes, fits better and probably symmetrically if given both enough planning and a handy order of arrival. It looks like they started at the right corner and did their best every time a plane arrived. $\endgroup$
    – fraxinus
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 23:40
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ there's also photoshop. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 0:55
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I just want to know the story on that black airplane. I am curious. $\endgroup$
    – Jammin4CO
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 15:47

4 Answers 4


This is what happens when there are more planes to park than can fit on the apron. They are parked asymmetrically to fit as many aircraft as possible into the smallest area.

The Parking

Airports have various procedures for parking depending on how long the aircraft are expected to be on the ground and the overall anticipated demand for parking space. At peak times of the year you have to book a parking spot at your destination. And as @Digital Dracula said, sometimes you have to go to another airport to park when there is not enough space left.

The Departure

In situations like this you can't just jump in your plane and fly away. It involves working with the airport to move your plane out of the jigsaw. This can take a few hours when the airport is very full, and is done very carefully by all involved.

They shuffle each aircraft out of the way sometimes moving the aircraft multiple time to replace the hole that yours has just made. The airports plan these movements ahead and place the planes in the expected departure order to minimize moves.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Extended parking need seems common in winter, and a recurring theme for papers: 2018, 2019, 2020. However planes are shown parked on the West apron (airport diagram), while the OP picture is for the main apron. Both may be used though. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 13:56

If your photo had only one aircraft pinned behind or between two others, there would be another possibility: it's a repair shop, and the owner of the pinned aircraft hasn't paid their bill.

I've known repair shops which, in order to prevent sketchy or troublesome clients from simply taking their repaired airplane and flying away, trap it behind other aircraft (or in one case between two large trucks parked inches from the nose and tail!).

Certainly this is not the case in your specific image, but sometimes the answer to "how can an owner get to their plane if it's on the far end" is "they can't, on purpose".

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This provides additional information but does not answer the specific question that was asked. I will delete this answer if the community feels it best. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 16:55
  • 22
    $\begingroup$ Please let the up/downvoters decide and do not delete this one. It does provide a different aspect to the question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 21:53
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @SteveV. Thank you for bringing this answer. May you please provide an image here in comment how does repaired aircrafts are parked. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 8:32

They did this to deal with an overflow of traffic at Anguilla (Clayton J. Lloyd ) International Airport during the 2013 holiday season.

It is very fortunate that you properly cited your image. This makes it so that there is no need for speculation here. When you follow the citation train it brings you back to https://www.airliners.net/photo/Gulfstream-Aerospace-G-IV/2393432/L

The photo's caption reads:

The ramp at St.Maarten gets very full around New Year, making it necessary for many business jets to fly over to Anguilla to re-park.

and if you follow the comments, an anonymous user who seems to be an authority on what happened here states:

The aircraft are parked according to departures after a while. At night when the aerodrome is closed, crews reposition aircraft and place them in order of departures. A tug is at the ready during operations and shifts them accordingly. They do it each year. Anguilla now has some additional parking, so I doubt it will look like this December 2014

So, in this exact case, they parked them asymmetrically because they can fit more planes in the space this way, but they did it in an "orderly" fashion such that they are organized left to right by departure time.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ See also the interview from the head of the team which takes care of this business and repositions the aircraft in order of departure. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ Sound like a fun situation if the tug has a technical failure ... $\endgroup$
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 7:15
  • $\begingroup$ Anguilla airport! It was my home base for awhile. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 11:39

This is a partial answer. Wait for more complete ones.

Regarding how the owners can get their aircraft, I confess my ignorance. A speculative answer could be, they are parked in order of anticipated departure – if plane A is expected to depart first, it's parked at the front.

To the question, Why are they parked asymmetrically, the answer is: Because this maximizes the number of aircraft that can fit on a given area.

Details regarding the situation from the image info:

Aircraft parking at Anguilla Airport. The ramp at St.Maarten gets very full around New Year, making it necessary for many business jets to fly over to Anguilla to re-park

  • $\begingroup$ Because this maximizes the number of aircraft that can fit on a given area. - when the planes themselves aren't all the same size / shape, as TomMcW commented with a link to another image. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 13:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .